With Halloween just around the corner, our thoughts turn to the creatures of the night. To learn more, let's take a look at two new children's books about bats.
Our first title is the picture book The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat
by Laurence Pringle and illustrated by Kate Garchinsky, which came out in September.
In the back matter, Pringle explains that the little bat's name comes from the generic name for the species: Myotis lucifugus. Although the text appears to be deceptively simple, it is full of detailed scientific information dressed up in an easy-to-follow story.
Garchinsky's pastel illustrations are mesmerizing. She says in the dedication that she was inspired by her new nephew's smile. The joyous faces of the bats reflect that.
The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat is a perfect introduction to bats for young readers.
Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (September 11, 2018)
Public domain image of little brown bat by Moriarty Marvin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Yes, little brown bats are cute.
Next we have a title for middle grade readers, Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night by Rob Laidlaw.
The "bat citizens" from the title are young people from around the world who study bats and let others know how they can help conserve them. Meet Truth Miller from New York, Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland, and Eleanor and Samson Davis from Australia, among others.
In between the descriptions of the kids and their projects are interesting facts about bats. The center features a fold-out illustration of the anatomy of a hoary bat. The back matter includes lists of 14 ways you can help bats and organizations that help bats.
Bat Citizens introduces young ambassadors for bats in a way that is likely to inspire others to get involved in science and conservation efforts. It is a great choice for budding scientists and conservationists alike.
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Pajama Press (May 11, 2018)
First, see our previous post with five bat science activity suggestions.
Bats and Plants
We've all heard about how important bats are because they eat a lot of insects, but bats also help out plants.
Here in the Sonoran Desert, lesser long-nosed bats are nectarivores, which means they feed on the sweet fluids produced by saguaro cactus flowers. As the bats fly from plant to plant they pick up pollen and transfer it to the next flower. This pollinates the saguaro.
Over 300 species of plants, and possibly more than 500, are pollinated by bats. For example, fruit bats are the main pollinators of African baobab tree. To entice bats to visit, the flowers open at night when bats are active. They are often white and many emit strong odors that help the bats locate them.
Other bats are frugivores, which means they eat fruit. Using their large eyes and noses, the bats find and eat bananas, mangoes, guavas, figs etc. When digestion is completed, they drop the seeds with their excrement, spreading the seeds around to grow in new places.
Do your own research
Investigate a few plants that are pollinated by bats. Find out what species of bats pollinate them, where the plants grow, and what time of year they flower. Try to discover what disperses the seeds of the plant. Are there any plants that bats both pollinate and disperse the seeds?
Gather images of the plants and bats, and use them to create a poster or slide show. Be a "bat citizen" and communicate to others what you have found out about the benefits of bats .
Want to learn more? Check out our growing list of children's book about bats at Science Books for Kids.